Denver -- A small group of young software and encryption
engineers funded by cable-modem pioneer Rouzbeh Yassini thinks that it has a way to make
CD-ROM content play on broadband networks.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., the group is calling itself
Arepa Inc., and it is led by a 24-year-old entrepreneur, Ric Fulop, who chased down
financial and strategic backing while he was in college.
Fulop's mission: to quickly jump-start broadband content by
enabling operators to tap the $6 billion in existing CD-ROM software for use in their
"This is the missing piece of the broadband
puzzle," said Yassini, who is also Arepa's chairman. "Now that broadband
deployment has begun, there is a need for a common, open platform that will deliver real
quality broadband service to each consumer."
Dave Fellows, senior vice president of Internet engineering
and operations at U S West Media Group (UMG), called Arepa's work "truly a
"The success of any paradigm shift is based on the
ability to create an application compelling enough to bring it into the mass market,"
Arepa's plan is to develop a new content platform capable
of securely delivering full-featured applications, such as CD-ROM content and large
software titles, while eliminating downloading and installing.
Besides UMG, Arepa has attracted interest from @Home
Using Arepa's platform, personal computer users connected
to a broadband service will be able to click and play thousands of broadband applications
and software titles, ranging from multimedia CD-ROM games and education to powerful
"Because of this, broadband networks will gain
immediate access to large libraries of compelling, high-bandwidth content and
applications," Fulop said
The technology works by sitting an Arepa server at each
point of the content-distribution chain: at the software-origination point, such as
Microsoft Corp. or Broderbund Inc.; at the regional data center; and at the cable headend.
Arepa software secures and encrypts a CD-ROM session with a
user, then serves it up dynamically so that users see a seamless flow of events over their
cable modem to their PC.
"This is a way to have transaction-based content that
we get paid for, as opposed to the existing Web model," Fellows said.